Meeting Minutes for Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Agenda Topic: Selection of color temperature for LED Street Lighting

The Historic District Commission met at the Town Offices on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.

HDC Members present: Doug Walker, Scott Oliver, Tom Weller, John Evans, Jay Jacobs Selectman

Members of the public present: Peggy Evans, Seth Farmer, Russell Downing, Sherry Sims, Jeanne Eastman, Roger Eastman, John Colony III, Erin Hammerstedt, Andrew Maneval, Sue Brown

Meeting opened at 7:00 pm.

Doug Walker stated that the specific scope of the meeting was to review and select the color temperature of the new LED street lights.

Approval of minutes of April 6, 2017
Tom Weller made a motion to approve the minutes of the April 6 meeting at 21 Canal Street, when Erin Hammerstedt was welcomed in her new position as Executive Director of Historic Harrisville and the group discussed window restoration and restoration techniques. There were no permit applications before the board at that meeting. All voted in favor.

Selection of Color Temperature LED Street Lights
Mr. Walker read aloud the language of the Warrant Article passed at Town Meeting on March 14, 2017 as follows: To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate a sum of $20,000 to replace existing street lights with more energy efficient LED lights and fixtures and/or to add or remove street lights as may be appropriate. This will be a non-lapsing appropriation per RSA 32:7(VI) and will not lapse until the project is completed or on December 31, 2018, whichever is sooner.

[Recommended by the Select Board. Majority vote required.] Mr. Walker then read the amendment to the article put forth by the HDC: We request that the utility will provide at least two samples of LED color temperature lights that can be installed for a two-month demonstration period. The Historic District Commission can then observe and determine the best choice for a National Historic Landmark District and for the town at large.

With the end of the official two-month observation period occurring November 15, Mr. Walker noted that three LED sample lights were installed, including the PEMCO Jamestown Radial Wave LED fixture, a 13-watt bulb, rated at 4000 Kelvin, across from the red barn next to the library. He noted that the Jamestown test fixture was intended to have a 2700 Kelvin bulb installed, a matter for later discussion. A second demonstration fixture, outside the General Store, is an Affinity Cobra Head LED fixture, 25 watts, and the third sample light, also an Affinity Cobra Head, on Main Street across from the lower entrance to the mill buildings, is also 25 watts.

Mr. Walker restated the purpose of the meeting was to officially approve of one color range or the other and that, while the selection was to be among three color ranges, the commission had only two to choose from, the 2700 or the 3000.

For clarification, Mr. Walker described the meaning of the different color ranges according to a CCT (Correlated Color Temperature) Scale, which exhibits the Kelvin temperature ranges from 1000-10,000. He stated that the board is dealing with ranges between 2700 and 4000 and that most incandescent bulbs, which we are used to, run about 201 watts and are between the 2700 and 3000 Kelvin range. The 4000 range, he explained, is a bluer color light. For comparison purposes, Mr. Walker and other board members cited different examples of existing incandescent bulb fixtures around town. Chick Colony asked what happens if the wattage were dropped at the location of the General Store, to which Russ Downing responded that the color temperature stays the same and that that particular fixture doesn’t take a bulb lower than 25 watts. He added that the wattage options for those Affinity fixtures are 25 watts, 40 watts or 65 watts. Doug Walker offered that he had spoken to Rick Lilly, from Sharon, Inc., who stated that most people don’t notice the difference between 2700 and 3000 Kelvin, that they are very close.

In moving on to the discussion of lumens, Mr. Walker noted that a 150 watt incandescent bulb is approximately 2600 lumens, and that compares to a 25-28 watt range for an LED. The lumens on the test fixture light at the General Store are about 2900.

Subsequently, Mr. Walker discussed the different types of lights in the test fixtures, referring to the pattern of light each fixture emits. Type I, he explained, emits a narrow beam. The higher the Type number, the wider the beam of light, with Type V, such as the Jamestown fixture, emitting a round pattern of light. By comparison, he added, the Cobra head fixtures are Type II. The differences in type are for control purposes, to light a road or sidewalk, in order not to waste light.

Russ Downing added that both the Jamestown and Affinity fixtures are dark-sky compliant, meaning neither spills light upward, which incandescent bulbs do. The Jamestown fixture differs from the Affinity fixture, Mr. Downing explained, in that it has a horizontal component, which is why the Jamestown test light, by the Red Barn, spills light on the adjacent shrubs and on the light pole, causing a loss in energy.

While the Jamestown Radial only has a Type V available, Mr. Walker stated that the Affinity fixture offers Types II, III and V. Mr. Walker noted that there is a possibility of a shield becoming available for the Jamestown fixture, which would tuck up into the light and allow for more light direction. He also stated that the Kelvin rating on the Jamestown fixture goes as low as 2700 and as high as 4000. If the town seeks a light similar to what it’s used to, then a range of 2700 to 3000 Kelvin is comparable.

Mr, Walker then cited an American Medical Association health report on the safety of LED bulbs. He noted that the AMA supports the use of LED lighting to reduce energy consumption and the use of fossil fuels but claims some studies have shown that night time exposure to the blue-rich color from the higher Kelvin (4000 range) bulbs has been linked to increased incidences of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while being disruptive to sleep cycles. As a result of what the AMA believes may be potentially harmful results of exposure to blue rich light at night, the AMA “encourages attention to optimal design and engineering features when converting from existing lighting technologies to LED. These include requiring proper shielded outdoor lighting, considering adaptive controls that can dim or extinguish light at night, and limiting the color correlated temperature of outdoor lighting to 3000
Kelvin or lower.”  In the commission’s subsequent discussion of options for LED lights, it was generally agreed that a fixture with a 3000 Kelvin bulb was recommended.

Resident Seth Farmer recommended keeping a 2700 Kelvin bulb as an option as he believes people would notice a difference between 2700 and 3000. Andrew Maneval recommended 2700 kelvin for any PEMCO fixtures and 3000 Kelvin bulbs for any other fixtures anyplace else.  To Doug Walker’s question about whether the HDC, according to the Warrant Article amendment, had the authority to recommend a range of bulbs for different fixtures, Jay Jacobs raised the concern that a 2700 Kelvin bulb wouldn’t provide an adequate measure of safety for a street light. Doug Walker commented that a 2700 bulb would provide half the light strength of the test fixtures at both the General Store and further down Main Street.

Peggy Evans stated her objection to the glare she experiences from the 4000 Kelvin test light driving up Main Street from Hancock Road and wondered how the bulb strength of the General Store test fixture would look in the Jamestown test fixture. Mr. Walker responded that swapping out the test bulb for the Jamestown fixture would require three to six weeks. Russ Downing explained that it’s very difficult to control glare when driving up hill and that, to be fair, if you look up at incandescent bulbs while driving up hill, you also experience glare. In the Jamestown fixture, he explained, where the bulb sits further up inside the fixture, there is less glare, but there is also less light output.

Erin Hammerstedt asked if Eversource’s approval of the Jamestown fixture specified a required range of wattage. Doug Walker then read the letter from Eversource to the town, which did not specify allowable wattage. He also explained the process by which Eversource waived its Design Light Consortium requirement for the Jamestown fixture, a major hurdle for having the Jamestown fixture approved for municipal use.

The subject of cost was then discussed. Doug Walker noted that the Affinity Cobra head fixtures, the one currently outside the General Store, cost $137 per fixture, less a $100 rebate available with that fixture, reducing its cost to $37, uninstalled.  The cost of the Jamestown fixture, he stated, is $825, with no rebate available. Erin Hammerstedt explained that the rebate is part of an incentive program based on energy savings and return on investment, according to Eversource’s formula.

Jay Jacobs then made a motion to approve a color temperature range of 3000 down to 2700 kelvin for the LED light fixtures. Scott Oliver seconded. All voted in favor.

Chick Colony asked how this range compares to the output of the town’s existing bulbs. Russ Downing responded that the lumens of the current incandescent bulbs is approximately 2600. Seth Farmer and Erin Hammerstedt stated that this is roughly a 10% increase and would be noticeable. Ms Hammerstedt then recommended that, because residents haven’t seen what might be available because the wrong test bulb was installed in the Jamestown fixture, for the good of the historic district and the town at large, the Historic District Commission take the necessary time to have the correct bulb installed. Mr. Walker responded that the HDC’s vote to approve the color temperature range effectively opened the door towards the Jamestown fixture and that the HDC’s legal parameters at this time are just to approve the color range. He added that replacing that test bulb, along with financing and determining locations for the Jamestown fixture, is a separate process to be determined down the road. Erin Hammerstedt responded that she believes the HDC has the authority in the larger process to request more time from the Select Board, and she requested that the HDC make that request.

Then Tom Weller asked for clarification that the issue at hand was not to consider Jamestown fixtures for the whole town but for select locations. Jay Jacobs explained that the town had put forth a proposal to Historic Harrisville, that the street light project was approved through the Warrant Article 8 months ago, and the Select Board expected to have the project completed in early summer and to experience savings in the budget from its completion, which would not happen because of the delay. He added that he believed the Select Board responded appropriately to the concerns raised in early summer by Historic Harrisville, and that the town has moved forward on their proposed alternative and will continue to move forward in the next week or two, deciding what will be put up and where.

Mr. Weller then asked what would be the process for installing the Jamestown fixtures, if those are chosen for certain locations, Mr. Jacobs responded that the Select Board would discuss that with Historic Harrisville once HHI responds to the town’s proposal for project completion, which the Select Board aims to complete this December given the importance of proper street lighting.

Seth Farmer asked why more time couldn’t be allowed given the already lost opportunity for savings, given that the test light hoped for, a yellow-colored bulb, was not able to be seen, and given his interpretation of the language in the Warrant Article regarding the two month demonstration period. Mr. Farmer also asked the HDC to consider that the language of the Warrant Article puts December 2018 as a project completion date.

Scott Oliver asked Russ Downing if it could be taken on faith that the proper bulb in the Jamestown fixture would be similar in appearance to the incandescent bulbs already installed in town. Mr. Downing responded that it would look similar. Mr. Walker reiterated his earlier statement that the difference between 2700 and 3000 is somewhat imperceptible to most people and closely approximates an incandescent bulb. As far as extending the viewing period, Mr. Walker stated he felt that was a matter for the next meeting and that the HDC was strictly focused on the decision already made. Mr. Jacobs confirmed that the HDC completed its mandate under the Warrant Article.

Peggy Evans asked who, ultimately, would choose which bulb, between the 2700 and 3000 Kelvin bulbs, would be selected. Doug Walker confirmed it would be the Select Board, following a public meeting that would include input from the public. Ms. Evans added that it was too bad the public wouldn’t have a chance to see the Jamestown fixture with the correct color bulb given that they may like the fixture but not the effect of the light.

Erin Hammerstedt then explained that the Eversource LED rate plan was not a metered plan but was based on the number of fixtures and wattage and that she had requested from Eversource an estimate of cost savings between the 13-watt and the 25-watt bulbs but noted that the request has to come from the town. She wasn’t sure but thought there might be usage savings to offset the capital costs of the Jamestown fixtures. Ms. Hammerstedt added that cost savings also was of interest to HHI and, unsure if HHI would like the Jamestown fixtures enough to justify the extra cost of those fixtures, she wondered if it wouldn’t be worth waiting a month to have adequate time to assess the fixture to see if it’s worth the investment.

Doug Walker reviewed the work the HDC had done to date, including researching whether the existing fixtures could be retrofitted with LED bulbs and, when that couldn’t be done, locating the Jamestown fixture which, he believes, is essentially the same as the existing fixtures, and looks nearly the same as if the existing fixtures had been retrofitted. Emphasizing the mandate of the Historic District Commission, he then read the following: A historic district is not the same as an outdoor museum. It is not frozen in time, nor is its purpose to bring everything back to a particular time period. The purpose of a historic district is to ensure that new construction and significant renovation are respectful of existing character. Mr. Walker added that the HDC also needs to operate within the confines of the Warrant Article amendment and that anything further was a subject for another meeting.

Russ Downing offered to look into another option that he heard about from his contact at Sharon, Inc., another model comparable to both the Affinity and Jamestown fixtures which may be available in a week or so. Tom Weller then asked if, at the next meeting, the HDC was supposed to ask for more time to look at options for fixtures in the village and Doug Walker responded that was something the HDC needed to discuss.

Chick Colony noted that of the 54 lights in the whole town, 34 are located in the village. When Jay Jacobs emphasized the Select Board’s interest in completing the project this winter, Mr. Colony asked why. Mr. Jacobs responded that the Select Board is interested in lighting the streets for safety and that the town is paying for a lot of lights the town is not getting use of. He reiterated that HHI had received a proposal from the Select Board and that the Select Board awaits a response. He offered that the Select Board would put up all Affinity fixtures and HHI could take all the time it needs to finance and have installed the Jamestown fixtures it selects. When asked if HHI would be willing to fund the cost of changing out the Jamestown test fixture with the correct color bulb, Erin Hammerstedt responded she believes they would if they had the time for it to be a meaningful exercise.

Sherry Sims raised a question about the decision-making process and what the HDC’s role is with respect to HHI and the Select Board. Doug Walker responded that the HDC has its feet on two shores, balancing its role as a board that has to help take the town to the next level regarding energy efficient street lighting, while helping preserve the character of the village. He noted that the Jamestown fixture was the best that could be found to achieve that objective within the historic district, and that it was entirely proper.

In response to Jay Jacob’s proposal that the town would put up the Affinity fixtures until HHI could raise the funds for the Jamestown lights, Erin Hammerstedt stated her concern that Eversource would only allow replacement of incandescent fixtures and not any new LED lights and seeks confirmation from Eversource on this in writing. Mr. Jacobs added that he seeks the proposed number of Jamestown fixtures that HHI would want installed. Ms. Hammerstedt responded that they are working on that but that those involved are concerned about funding something they haven’t seen.

Andrew Maneval asked who should get confirmation from Eversource on what is allowable once the Affinity fixtures are installed. Erin Hammerstedt responded that Eversource would like the town to request it. Mr. Maneval asked Mr. Walker or a member of the HDC to attempt to find out and, if they needed the Select Board also to contact Eversource, to let Mr. Maneval know.

Seth Farmer then stated his concern about having Affinity lights installed throughout town and having them changed out one by one. He believes they cast far too much light and are far too bright. Mr. Weller responded that he was never comfortable walking home from his office because it was too dark, and that he didn’t find the light level in front of the General Store objectionable.  The group discussed different reactions to the test lights, after which Doug Walker stated he was firmly convinced that if the Jamestown Radial was the desired fixture for the historic area, and if they could make a decision which luminosity to give it, then a desirable compromise could be reached.

Scott Oliver, addressing Jay Jacobs, commented that he didn’t feel the HDC or HHI had dragged its feet and that much time and effort had gone into the project. He asked why it couldn’t be pushed off a little bit further to get the right bulb in the Jamestown light so everyone can see it and then make a decision. Mr. Jacobs stated he didn’t entirely agree and described his experience at an early HHI meeting about street lights, where he felt there was a clear intention to slow the process down. He also added he felt the Select Board has given Historic Harrisville a lot of time, and that the whole process started last year, prior to the March Town meeting. Mr. Jacobs further stated there are 800 voters outside the historic district, many of whom are wondering why the project isn’t complete. He added he feels it is the Select Board’s role to make decisions that take into account the whole town.

It was subsequently confirmed that installation costs for the LED fixtures is $200 per pole. Jay Jacobs also confirmed that HHI would pay the difference in cost of the Affinity and Jamestown fixtures, not the entire cost of the Jamestown fixtures.

When Seth Farmer stated reasons why he feels people are concerned about the lights and would like more time, the matter of the public meeting was discussed. Jay Jacobs stated that the date and format had not yet been determined and that, while not required to have a public meeting, the Select Board feels obligated to the public to hold at least one meeting to discuss the locations of streetlights and whether or not people are happy with where they are, whether they’d prefer additions or to have them taken down. Andrew Maneval agreed the Select Board should give the public a chance to address some of these questions at a Select Board meeting.

Mr. Maneval then stated he believed, based on the availability of the two different fixtures and the different test bulbs, and assuming the town would go with the PEMCO light in certain places, that people could determine with that information what they would like and that he didn’t necessarily see why a delay was necessary. He further commented that, if the town went ahead with installing the Affinity fixtures with the yellower colored bulbs, that residents would have additional opportunity to see what those lights looked like prior to the installation of any Jamestown fixtures.  Mr. Maneval added that he would recommend to the Select Board to hold the public meeting after Thanksgiving. He hoped, by the public meeting, that the town would know from Eversource whether or not the town could change out lights, assuming the will and funding were in place.

Chick Colony stated that, if the Select Board had had a public meeting before making up its mind, it wouldn’t be quite as antagonistic an issue now. Seth Farmer noted he agreed and stated a plan should have been in place prior to the vote at Town Meeting and felt it was being done in an ad hoc manner.

Andrew Maneval asked to clarify a few things, stating the process could be called many things but ad hoc wasn’t a particularly fair one, nor that it was put forth as an awkward surprise for the community. The Select Board talked about it for a considerable period of time leading up to the creation of the budget and the Town Report which contained one relating to this. In addition, Mr. Maneval noted that, in response to conversations and feedback following different interpretations of what was adopted at Town Meeting, the Select Board made every effort to continue the discussion over a very long period of time to talk about planning and issues and perspectives. Furthermore, he added, the Select Board came up with what Mr. Maneval saw as a very productive proposal to have anyone interested in funding that which the town had not offered and agreed to fund for lights, to have a different set of lights to put up, that would meet the interests of the historic community or anyone else.  Mr. Maneval also clarified that the Select Board preferred to have a plan that considers where residents want the alternative type of lights but, if it can’t or won’t be done, or the thinking about it isn’t coalesced, then the Select Board’s plan is an alternative that still allows reversible circumstances to be put in place.

To Erin Hammerstedt’s question about whether or not a map would be available for public viewing at the public meeting, Mr. Maneval responded that a map with all the pole locations would be displayed. Sherry Sims wondered if a Community Conversation on the topic would help, but it was Mr. Maneval’s feeling that the Select Board would like to move the process along sooner than that would allow.  Scott Oliver asked again, given all the time invested in the process, why the town couldn’t allow more to have the correct test light bulb installed in the Jamestown fixture. Mr. Maneval responded he didn’t see a problem with getting a sense of what the light looks like in front of the General Store and what the fixture looks like and knowing what you’ve got, even if they’re not together in one place.  Mr. Oliver stated he agreed with that, as did Mr. Weller.  Mr. Maneval added that specific decisions about the Jamestown fixture bulbs could be decided as the funds for those fixtures became available.

Doug Walker asked Andrew Maneval if a time period could be allowed for consultation and for a strategy to be formed and for HHI to put together its financing. Erin Hammerstedt offered that she believed HHI was supposed to lay out its plan for what lights HHI would like to see at which locations and how they would pay for them and maintain them. She added they are working on it.

When the final topic of a walkthrough was raised so members of the community could come together to see and discuss the test fixtures, the group decided to hold it on Monday, November 20, from 6-7 pm.  Doug Walker and Erin Hammerstedt offered to post notices.

Meeting adjourned at 9:10 pm.